As a doula and birth educator, clients and acquaintances alike often ask me what pregnancy books I recommend (you know, besides What to Expect When You’re Expecting¹).
Normally, my answer is, “I don’t recommend anything. Stop reading, especially online.”
There are just so many books out there right now, both online and in stores, that I simply don’t like. Yes, there are informative books and articles that teach important things like when to call the doctor if your child has a fever. (Read those!) But the rest of it, at least it seems to me, is often just pride –or shame, or fear—inducing opinion.
Enter Focus on the Family’s new release, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin.
As a born-again Christian with lots of non-Christian friends, I had high hopes for this book to apply to. . . well. . . anyone. I am pleased to report that Expectant Parents is perhaps the best pregnancy book since What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Christians and non-Christians alike will be able to gain perspective and wisdom from this entertaining and enlightening piece. Never is it preachy or greater-than-thou. The message is freeing and uplifting, honest and real. Here’s what I walked away with:
1) My story is just one story.
This is the sentence with which Gosselin began (and she had me at “Hello!”). In a culture where everyone seems to argue about the ‘right’ way to go about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, I was thrilled to read the same message that I work so hard to impart on my own clients.
Suzanne’s opening message welcomes us unto the fact that never in this entire work, will she provoke shame or say how things “should be.” Instead, she proceeds to offer encouragement throughout the entire book to free ourselves from trying to walk anyone else’s path – and instead lean into finding what God’s story is for each of us.
2) I am still fully myself. I am also fully a mother.
Just to be clear, this book contains a well-balanced appeal to both men and women. And even though this particular message was directed at moms-to-be, it definitely offers insight for fathers, too. Too many of the materials already out there give the impression that when we have a child, we are taking on a whole new identity.
Instead, Gosselin covers the topics of identity, working, finances, the marriage relationship, coming to terms with our pasts, and giving ourselves grace, through example after example from real people—each of which offer a vivid picture of the many ways God grows us through having children. The reminder that we are just adding a new facet to ourselves – like a diamond gaining a new, extra-shiny cut—is incredibly refreshing (not to mention true!).
3) It’s worth it.
Through an upbeat, easy-to-read, almost magazine-style approach, Expectant Parents offers a humorous and encouraging look at the good, the bad, and the good again. Numerous tips and ideas are given not just for making it through struggles, but also for figuring out the practical stuff—as well as making life more fun. (Being a new parent can be fun? Imagine that!) Gosselin was thorough in including experts on every subject and offering a real look at how wonderful, and hard, and worth it becoming a parent will be.
Kudos to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin on putting forth such an encouraging and grace-filled look at how to prepare for the journey of parenthood as a couple. I highly recommend this work!
Want to order a copy? Click here
¹Murkoff and Mazel, What to Expect When You’re Expecting (New York: Workman Publishing Group, 2008).
Jennifer DeBrito, CCLD, CCBE is a Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parents, a pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family, releasing October 2014). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching. Jennifer is also a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.